The Mindless Ones

Posted in Audio by - August 12, 2022
The Mindless Ones

Released August 2022


Following the introduction of Ruth Madeley’s Hebe Harrison to the Sixth Doctor and Mel dynamic in Water Worlds, Purity Undreamed looks to further develop this new era of the Sixth Doctor’s adventures, beginning with Paul Magrs’s ‘The Mindless Ones.’ Visiting Sheffield to see Hebe’s best friend, Elise, Hebe finds that Elise has undergone a massive transformation via the Mindless Facility that claims to be able to change people for the better. An alien menace is threatening Britain, and the trio must join with anthropologist Professor Patricia McBride to uncover the truth and save the entire country.

Magrs is a master of creating fantastical worlds and scenarios brimming with incredible visuals and personalities, but the more limited running time of a two-parter and the more mundane setting on Earth do not allow for any of that typical flourish to shine. Unfortunately, because Hebe is a such a new character with so much unexplored potential and since ‘The Mindless Ones’ is also tasked with introducing and developing Patricia and Elise in short order, there isn’t time for the story to do much of anything while only superficially touching on everything it tries to accomplish. Despite an engaging performance from Cherylee Houston, Elise remains something of a blank slate who is used solely as a means of introducing the extreme personal changes possible. Of course, it’s through Hebe that these changes have to be explained, and while it is odd that Hebe hardly gives the notion of people genuinely changing a second thought since everything that made her initially like Elise has changed, the explained visual and personality changes are nonetheless an effective entry point to the insidious threat at hand while also giving a little more backstory to Hebe herself.

Patricia fares little better here, the character often coming off as a bit too harsh while defaulting to sarcasm; while it does seem that ‘The Mindless Ones’ is beginning to set up Patricia as another recurring character, there just isn’t enough time here to showcase any sort of depth or dimensionality to her obvious determination despite another solid performance from Imogen Stubbs. She isn’t given much opportunity to interact and develop any sort of chemistry with the leads, and so there isn’t much of a template here for what any future stories might be like with Patricia involved. Unfortunately, dedicating such time to Patricia and Elise has the compounded effect of leaving Hebe as mostly a source of exposition without really developing the character in the moment, perhaps the biggest missed opportunity of the script given the great impact Madeley has already made during her brief tenure aboar the TARDIS.

In a story founded upon mind control, it is a shame that the actual alien plot is mostly relegated to the background, that Mel comes up with a solution so quickly, and that the major plot point of the Doctor’s own personality being transformed after finding a new outlook on life via Mr Betterment is hardly substantial and is ultimately something the Doctor can simply play off to use to his own advantage. Given the superficialities of both the mind control and the supporting character development, this is certainly a story that could have been expanded to three or even four parts to allow a much greater depth to be achieved and to allow Magrs’s typical voice to truly shine through; as it is, while the Doctor and Mel certainly do acquit themselves well as they traverse these unique perils in a well-paced story, ‘The Mindless Ones’ as a whole is something of an incomplete experience that doesn’t quite manage to achieve what it wants to despite some incredibly strong ideas and personal connections for Hebe at its core.

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